By: Jane Kelly | University Communications
Sarah Dodge says photography is in her blood.
The third-year University of Virginia student is a media studies major and a psychology minor. When she is not studying, the Front Royal native can be found teaching photography classes at HackCville, where she is the senior producer of the organization’s online publication, The Pioneer.
Dodge is also a photography intern for the UVA Athletics Media Relations Office, a job that oftentimes finds her courtside at basketball games at the John Paul Jones Arena.
She sat down with UVA Today to share more about what makes her click.
Q. How did you get interested in photography?
A. As long as I can remember, I have loved to shoot. I went through what seemed like dozens of point-and-shoot cameras throughout middle school and high school, and I would shoot everything from my family to flowers to sports. When I turned 15, my parents got me my first DSLR [digital single-lens reflex camera] – it was a Canon Rebel – and I think that was a turning point for me in my journey as a photographer. I’ve always had an eye for photography, and having a DSLR really fostered that passion.
Photography allowed me to live in the moment and to capture people and places and things that mattered to me and allowed me to know what those important things were.
Q. What do you like to shoot?
A. I love to photograph people. I think that people and their expressions tell the most interesting stories. Whether I’m shooting portraits, sports, events, or am taking casual photos of my friends, photos of people always say something more.
Q. Where do you like to shoot on Grounds?
A. I love to shoot at the John Paul Jones Arena and on the Lawn.
Having the chance to be on the court at the JPJ is always so exciting – the energy in the building is unreal and there is something special about being down in the middle of it. I think I also love to shoot at the JPJ because every time I shoot there, I learn something. Being constantly surrounded by talented and experienced photographers is such an incredible opportunity to gain knowledge and perfect skills.
Shooting on the Lawn, and especially around the Rotunda, makes my heart happy. Being a UVA student is something I am extremely proud of, and to be able to combine that identity with my identity as a photographer is really satisfying. I think that my class, 2018, and the fourth-years have a certain appreciation for the Rotunda now that it is reopened and restored.
I love the different perspective of the Lawn from the south portico of the Rotunda. Looking at things from a new or different perspective is a vitally important part of being a photographer – being able to see things other people don’t – and being able to now explore the Rotunda in a way that I wasn’t able to my first or second year is really exciting, so I never get tired of shooting the Rotunda or the Lawn.
Q. Do you have a favorite picture? One that you took?
A. A specific favorite is not sticking out in my head right now – that seems like choosing between children! I have favorite images for different reasons – a photo that reminds me of a specific memory, a photo that was the first I took on a new camera, a photo that was the first great sports moment I captured, a photo of my sister, etc.
Q. Do you have a favorite photographer? Who is it and why do you like them?
A. When I was in high school, I saw a photography exhibit at The Met in New York while on a trip with my mom. The exhibit featured the photographer Garry Winogrand. He shot the streets of New York City and documented American life from the 1950s through the 1980s. Winogrand’s work captures the utter chaos that is humanity. His photos capture the life, energy and complexity of human interaction and everyday life. When you look at one of his photos, you know who the subject is and you can read their emotion.
I also love Winogrand because, for him, shooting and the act of photography was more important than developing or printing his photos. To Winogrand, and to me, it’s the act of taking a photo that is the most fulfilling because it forces you to be 100 percent in the moment and forces you to experience the life that is going on right now, right in front of you.
Q. What are your other interests and activities on Grounds?
A. I am an intern with UVA’s Athletics Media Relations [office] under Matt Riley. Being a sports photographer is something that is a significant part of who I am as a photographer. From shooting football under the lights on Friday nights in high school to shooting the NCAA basketball tournament courtside in Chicago, shooting sports has allowed me to grow and learn as a photographer.
I am also heavily involved in HackCville. Right now, I am teaching a photography program called “Exposure.” I founded the program. Being able to teach and share my experience with others is rewarding. That is something I love about HackCville – learning from your peers and teaching your peers is something that happens so naturally. As part of HackCville, I am also a senior producer for The Pioneer, HackCville’s in-house media publication.
I also shoot some as a senior photographer for the Cav Daily.
I am primarily a free-lance photographer/videographer. This allows me to meet people I never would have otherwise, and allows me to hear stories I never would have otherwise heard. Being a storyteller, which is what being a photographer is, allows you to experience so much more than just your own world.